Why Probate Attorneys Should Also Be Litigation Specialists
Any probate attorneys handling your estate or the estate of a loved one who has recently died should also be litigation lawyers in order to protect the estate in court if it is disputed in some way.
In an ideal world, when someone you love passes away, their will and estate goes through the probate process smoothly, but this isn't the real world. In many cases, lawyerswind up having to handle disputes in court because there is a problem with thedocuments or because someone contests the validity of the filing. Being familiar with case law and the various legal precedents set in court is essential when a litigation attorney has to handle the estate, trust or guardianship disputes.
Contesting A Will In Court
If a relative or loved one passes away with a valid will in place, probate attorneys can handle court filings relatively quickly, but if the document isn't valid or someone contests it, a litigation attorney may need to be brought in to handle the case. He or she may need to determine whether the document was signed and witnessed appropriately, whether the executor is properly qualified to handle the many duties of being an executor or whether someone was left out in error. There are several common reasons for contesting an estate, including two different wills being presented to the court, allegations of fraud - including a document that was signed under duress - and other questions about the validity of the document. In any of these cases, you should consult a litigation attorney who is experienced in handling these kinds of situations in court.
Trust Problems Probate Attorneys Need To Address
If a trust was created prior to an individual's death that clearly addresses who will get the funds after an individual passes away, it can be a wonderful way to protect the assets of an estate. Unfortunately, attorneys often have deal with trusts that either weren't properly prepared or that are no longer valid for any number of reasons. For instance, the deceased person may have created a document that stipulates that the assets go to a particular heir who has since passed away. If the trust doesn't address this issue, a litigation attorney may be hired by any number of heirs who feel they have a right to the proceeds of that trust. The administrator of a trust can also be legally challenged if anyone can prove that the administrator has abused or defrauded the trust.
Probate attorneys sometimes have to address guardianship issues if minor children are left behind by the death of their parents. If guardianship was addressed in the estate planning, things usually go smoothly, but in some cases, a court battle is unavoidableif more than one individual steps forward to assume guardianship of the children. In this case, a litigation lawyer should be brought in to handle the case and help the appropriate individuals gain guardianship of the children. Common reasons to dispute guardianship include a will that is several years old, the omission of one or more minor children, or the incapacity of the newly appointed guardian.
With so many complex issues arising out of the handling of an estate, it's no surprise that probate attorneys may also be, or consult with, a litigation attorney in order to protect the rights of the deceased and their heirs.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peck Bloom's Chicago probate attorneys are also experienced in estate litigation. If you want to contest a will or estate, a litigation lawyer in Chicago can be a valuable asset. Learn more about contesting a will by visiting Peck Bloom's website.